As Russia resumed its supply of natural gas to Germany after weeks of what it called “maintenance” on its Nord Stream 1 pipeline, leaders in Berlin breathed a sigh of relief. A day earlier, US President Joe Biden chose to defer declaring a climate emergency, which could have unleashed a wave of resources to fight the crisis, despite his opponents torpedoing his plans.
At the same time, Europe more widely is devouring enormous amounts of liquefied natural gas – a harmful fossil fuel – imported from the US and other allies to temper its reliance on Russian energy. Europe is also returning to coal, the most carbon-heavy of fossil fuels.
All this while the northern hemisphere swelters through a summer of extreme heat. More than 100 million Americans are under heat alerts as a heat wave spread further and further afield. They are forced to stay home or seek air-conditioned venues until the heat passes. Germany has had its hottest day of the year. Greece is literally putting out fires around its capital.
Yet Germany and Netherlands are upping their coal use. Greece’s state energy company said last week it would delay its coal exit by another one to two years. Even Austria, which stopped using coal for power in 2020, is preparing to reopen a mothballed plant in case of a winter emergency.